The school year is reaching an end, the holidays are approaching and all parents have one looming question on their mind: “How will I keep my child busy over the summer?” Of course, the summer holidays are a great time for students to see friends, relax, get outdoors, visit family and refresh their tired minds for another year of hard work. But the Christmas holidays are also a great time to get enthusiastic about reading. There is no doubt that students who read for pleasure have a distinct advantage at school; they have larger vocabularies, their comprehension skills are more advanced, they will have a firmer grasp on spelling and grammar and they are more likely to be able to respond to problems in a more creative and original way. If your child is not already an avid reader, then the school holidays are a perfect time to convert them.

If your child is starting high school in the next few years, it is vital that they develop good reading habits. When they get to high school, they will be required to read novels independently and discuss complex ideas in their classes. Unfortunately, students between the ages of 11-14 are often the pickiest when it comes to what they read. The good news is, Australia has countless talented authors who are producing some amazing books for pre-teens and teenagers of all interests. Here is just a small sample of the range of Australian Young Adult novels out there; slip one or two of these in your child’s stocking this Christmas and help them develop good reading habits that will help them throughout their education!

 

Fire in the Sea

Myke Barlett

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Sadie is sixteen and bored with life in Perth. It’s summer, and lazing on the beach in the stifling heat with her cousins and Tom is a drag. Then something comes out of the sea. Dark menacing forms attack an old man, leaving him for dead and Sadie wracking her brains to understand what she saw. Then there’s a mysterious inheritance, a strange young man called Jake and a horned beast trampling the back yard.

Sadie finds herself caught in the middle of an ancient conflict that is nearing its final battle, a showdown that threatens to engulf Perth and all those she loves in a furious tsunami.

 

Life in Outer Space

Melissa Kell

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Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft u and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, worry about girls he won’t. Then Camilla Carter arrives on the scene.

She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his plan. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a plan of her own u and he seems to be a part of it! Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies. But perhaps he’s been watching the wrong ones.

 

A Fine Mess

Norman Jorgensen

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Michael Hardy and Woody Decker have a talent for creating disaster. While testing a replica Roman catapult they accidentally fire a brick through the church window, and so a month of mayhem is unleashed. The school library burns down, the principal is knocked unconscious, a huge dog runs amok, a wedding is totally wrecked and a regiment of garden gnomes is massacred. Could anything else go wrong? Uproariously funny and witheringly witty, A Fine Mess! will have you laughing out loud and begging for mercy.

 

Tomorrow, When the War Began

John Marsden

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Six teenagers spend five idyllic days camping in a remote and tranquil beauty spot called Hell. But when they return to their homes they find their families gone, their farms deserted and the animals lying dead in the fields. That’s when they begin to understand the real meaning of hell.

 

All I Ever Wanted

Vikki Wakefield

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Mim knows what she wants, and where she wants to go – anywhere but home, stuck in the suburbs with her mother who won’t get off the couch, and two brothers in prison. She has set herself rules to live by, but she’s starting to break them. Now Mim has to retrieve a lost package for her mother. Does this make her a drug runner? Why is a monster dog called Gargoyle hidden in the back shed? And Jordan, the boy she sent Valentines to for years, why is he now suddenly a creep? How come there’s a huge gap between her and her best friend, Tahnee? And who is the mysterious girl next door who moans at night? Over the nine days before her seventeenth birthday, Mim’s life turns upside down. She has problems, and she’s determined to solve them herself. But in the end, she works out who her people are, and the same things look entirely different.

 

Deadly, Unna?

Phillip Gwynne

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Deadly, Unna? is one year in the life of fourteen year-old Gary ‘Blacky’ Black. Like most boys his age,he plays football, worries about what to say to girls, shirks responsibility and has problems at home. However, through his brief friendship with Dumby Red, one of the local Aborigines, Blacky learns important lessons about human dignity, racism, justice, death, courage, family and friendship

 

We’d love to hear your experiences of getting children to read. What is your child reading this summer? Is your child an avid reader, or do they have a morbid phobia of books? What genre/style of books does your child find particularly interesting? Can you recommend any authors or titles? Let us know.

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